Carlos Ghosn: Fiat Taking Risky Stand On EVs, Fight Is On Against Chevy Bolt
As has been the case from years past, we got a round table talk with the other ‘rockstar boss‘ of the EV industry, Nissan/Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn this week from the NAIAS in Detroit.
And as usual he didn’t disappoint.
Ghosn laid down the law on the latest criticism of the plug-in business from Fiat, touched on the challenges from Apple with their EV project, the state of the EV charging infrastructure, and even commented on the upcoming bolt.
Here are the highlights, as they relate to EVs, from Ghosn’s 40 minute chat with the media:
On earlier comments from Fiat/Chrysler boss, Sergio Marchionne that the electrification of the automobile will cause disintermediation amongst the car makers as they lose control of their businesses by no longer making vital components like the electric motors and batteries. (from 22:00)
“The beauty of the car makers, is that every car maker has a different opinion…I think electrification is not a question of a ‘I want it or don’t want it’, electrification is happening. We are obviously precipitating it. We are accelerating it. Because we believe in it. We can’t just say ‘there is a risk behind electrification’…the risk is not to partner or to (not) participate, or to contribute, or to understand – the trend is coming.”
“We are the last person to tell you that electrification is a risk, because we have taken the initiative to come with electric cars, and to move in this direction to build motors and to build batteries, and in a certain way open the batteries for other suppliers. We have our own battery, but at the same time buy batteries from LG Chemical.
On the risk of connected cars, autonomous drive and the upcoming (and not so secret) Apple electric car project:
“Is Apple a risk or an opportunity? Well I can tell you, it depends how you position yourself. If you are passive and staying behind, and it is not a good thing, because we are going to lose control X,Y,Z – then this is a risk. If you say ‘this is something interesting for the consumer – let me jump onto the is opportunity and work, and build my own business system to be able to offer it’ – then this is a business opportunity.”
On General Motor’s upcoming 200 mile, Chevrolet Bolt EV (full details/specs from NAIAS reveal here), and how Nissan will react with the LEAF and its timeline (from 27:30):
“Obviously, the LEAF is going to go though a lot of transformation. First we announced more autonomy, more range. But there is going to be a new LEAF coming. We didn’t take the leadership of electric car to abandon it. We are going to be fighting for it, we are going to continue to develop cars. But we would like to make announcement just before the cars come and not a long time before. So you are going to see us coming with products, with technologies, with enhancements, with reduction of costs and (more range).”
As Ghosn touched on, Nissan can’t exactly show the next generation LEAF as the same way GM can currently show the Bolt EV, as the Japanese company still needs to sell the current model for the next year+.
Still, we could not help but notice the huge images of the 60 kWh/200 mile IDS Concept surrounding the room the CEO was speaking in – practically screaming “look at me, I am coming” to those who would listen.
The Nissan boss then doubles back to the need for a still stronger charging infrastructure, no matter the range of the electric car the company produces, whether it be 200 miles or 300 miles, 400 miles:
“We are not going to eliminate range anxiety by only having better batteries…the anxiety is going to be eliminated only when we have a charging infrastructure which is widespread and visible. I bought a lot of cars (in my life), I never, never asked myself the question, ‘what is the range of my car’. Never. Why? Because you have gasoline station all over the place. So, I don’t care I went 200, 300, 400km, I know that I could stop at any moment and I can (fill) my car. Why people have anxiety? First, because the range is smaller, and because there is no charging station.”
Be sure to check out the entire video for even more background on Mr. Ghosn’s thoughts on the EV industry, emission standards, and why the future is all-electric – even if consumers have yet to fully embrace i.t (Hint: Think government regulations/incentives and what happened with the adoption of diesel technology in Europe)